To meet the development needs of the Europe of the knowledge economy and the Lisbon Strategy, OSEO wishes to step up its support for innovation and SMEs and foster the growth of intermediate-sized companies. The EIB is ready to get involved in OSEO’s different initiatives. Strengthening the well-established cooperation between the EIB and OSEO will send an important signal to the French market in a difficult business climate. Three first areas of cooperation have been agreed:

Financing of SMEs

OSEO is substantially increasing its support for SMEs. It expects its needs to grow by EUR 2bn over the next three years. The EIB will give its backing to this heightened effort by participating in OSEO’s dedicated SME programmes. Its action will form part of the new European SME support initiatives that have emerged from the consultation exercise carried out in 2007 on SMEs’ financing requirements. OSEO will therefore be one of the EIB’s pilot partners in its new SME strategy in Europe.

Financing of intermediate-sized enterprises

As part of its remit to assist the creation of medium-sized enterprises, OSEO, playing its role as a local bank, will cofinance with the EIB and other banks the substantial investment of mid-cap companies in R&D and the energy and environment sectors. In accordance with certain criteria, the acquisition of tangible assets and certain intangible investment and expenditure (especially on R&D, marketing and distribution networks) will be eligible for this financing. The EIB and OSEO’s joint operation is intended to help round off the financing plans for the medium-sized companies’ key investments.

Financing of R&D and innovation under the Risk-Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF)

The RSFF is a joint EIB-Commission initiative that enables the Bank to take on a higher level of risk when financing innovative projects. The EIB is prepared to use the RSFF for the benefit of innovative projects financed by OSEO under its two support programmes: Aid for Innovation and Strategic Industrial Innovation. OSEO finances companies’ RDI projects, either on its own or with other lenders, in particular by providing repayable advances. EIB funding under the RSFF can serve to cofinance the innovative projects of companies’ receiving repayable advances from OSEO.

The impact of such cooperation will be reinforced by the administrative, fiscal and legal simplification measures brought about by the European Small Business Act in favour of SMEs in the EU Member States.

Other forms of cooperation will be pursued in the knowledge economy field (universities, student loans, competitiveness clusters…) or in order to provide venture capital investors with guarantees on innovative projects.